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14 February 2007 Noninvasive noble metal nanoparticle arrays for surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy of proteins
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Noble metal nanoparticles arrays are well established substrates for surface enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS). Their ability to enhance optical fields is based on the interaction of their surface valence electrons with incident electromagnetic radiation. In the array configuration, noble metal nanoparticles have been used to produce SER spectral enhancements of up to 108 orders of magnitude, making them useful for the trace analysis of physiologically relevant analytes such as proteins and peptides. Electrostatic interactions between proteins and metal surfaces result in the preferential adsorption of positively charged protein domains onto metal surfaces. This preferential interaction has the effect of disrupting the native conformation of the protein fold, with a concomitant loss of protein function. A major historic advantage of Raman microspectroscopy has been is its non-invasive nature; protein denaturation on the metal surfaces required for SER spectroscopy renders it a much more invasive technique. Further, part of the analytical power of Raman spectroscopy lies in its use as a secondary conformation probe. The protein structural loss which occurs on the metal surface results in secondary conformation readings which are not true to the actual native state of the analyte. This work presents a method for chemical fabrication of noble metal SERS arrays with surface immobilized layers which can protect protein native conformation without excessively mitigating the electromagnetic enhancements of spectra. Peptide analytes are used as model systems for proteins. Raman spectra of alpha lactalbumin on surfaces and when immobilized on these novel arrays are compared. We discuss the ability of the surface layer to protect protein structure whilst improving signal intensity.
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Obianuju Inya-Agha, Robert J. Forster, and Tia E. Keyes "Noninvasive noble metal nanoparticle arrays for surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy of proteins", Proc. SPIE 6450, Plasmonics in Biology and Medicine IV, 64500T (14 February 2007);

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